FROM Southend to the east end and now to the West End – it’s all change for a Southend EastEnders star.

Ricky Champ, who played Stuart Highway in the soap until he departed Albert Square last year, has taken on a new role in the West End thriller 2:22 A Ghost Story.

The show opened at London’s Apollo Theatre yesterday and it was a hit with theatregoers.

The actor boasts an impressive CV which includes credits on HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones and BBC Three’s sitcom Him & Her.

Echo: In good company - Popstar Cheryl previously had a role in 2:22 A Ghost StoryIn good company - Popstar Cheryl previously had a role in 2:22 A Ghost Story

His theatre credentials are equally impressive, with the Southend-born star previously landing roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Coriolanus, among other credits.

Ricky’s new role sees him join the cast of a critically acclaimed play which promises to provide viewers with an adrenaline-filled night where secrets emerge and ghosts may or may not appear.

It was named best new play at the 2022 WhatsOnStage awards and was nominated for three Olivier awards.

Echo: Soap star - Ricky Champ played Stuart Highway in EastEndersSoap star - Ricky Champ played Stuart Highway in EastEnders (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron/PA)

Prior to its move to the Apollo Theatre, the show’s home was the Lyric theatre, where fellow EastEnders cast member Jake Wood starred alongside popstar Cheryl.

Earlier iterations have had an equally star-studded cast, with former Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore and singer-songwriter Lily Allen among the stage royalty to have taken up roles in the production.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Which EastEnders actors are from Southend?

Ricky isn’t the only EastEnders star to emerge from Southend.

Former Southend schoolboy David Witts landed the role of Joey Branning in 2012. The former Southend High School for Boys pupil won the newcomer award at the National Television Awards.

Another Branning family to emerge from the area is Kierston Wareing who grew up in Leigh and portrayed Kirsty Branning in the soap.

Danny Dyer’s on-screen wife Kellie Bright, who plays Linda Carter, is from Great Wakering, while Maisie Smith, who is best known for her role as Tiffany Butcher-Baker, grew up in Westcliff.

Jasmine Armfield, who is from Thundersley, played Sonia Jackson’s daughter Bex until 2020.

Stars from elsewhere in Essex have found success on the square too, with TOWIE narrator Denise van Outen, from Basildon, taking up a role in the BBC soap in 2015.